Role of CD4+ Cytotoxic T Lymphocytes in the Control of Viral Diseases and Cancer

Int Rev Immunol. 2010 Aug;29(4):371-402. doi: 10.3109/08830185.2010.489658.


Our knowledge on the physiological role of CD4(+) T lymphocytes has improved in the last decade: available data convincingly demonstrate that, besides the 'helper' activity, CD4(+) T cells may be also endowed with lytic properties. The cytotoxic function of these effector cells has a relevant role in the control of pathogenic infections and in mediating antitumor immune responses. On these bases, several immunotherapeutic approaches exploiting the cytotoxic properties of CD4(+) T cells are under investigation. This review summarizes available data supporting the functional and therapeutic relevance of cytotoxic CD4(+) T cells, with a particular focus on Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-related disorders.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Epstein-Barr Virus Infections / immunology
  • Epstein-Barr Virus Infections / therapy
  • Herpesvirus 4, Human / immunology
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Neoplasms / therapy
  • T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic / immunology*
  • Virus Diseases / immunology*
  • Virus Diseases / therapy